26 October 2006


Another smorgasbord of random bits today.
(if I number them, it makes it seem organized rather than rambling, right?)

1. It's been a long time since I posted a progress shot of the Fair Isle:

Note how I used foreshortening to make it look like much more progress than it actually is. The good news is, I absolutely can't tell where I switched to the slightly smaller needles.

2. Aija changed my life yesterday. I saw her post on weaving in ends as you go, and to my surprise found that it was a technique I hadn't seen before. Her pictures and explanations were so gloriously clear that I felt like I got the concept just from reading it. Later on, in the evening, I tried it out on the Fair Isle. And even though I was complicating things somewhat by trying it with more than one color in the same row and knitting Continental-style (Aija's demo in English-style), it was actually totally easy. I just held the end being woven in between my left thumb and ring finger, while arranging the left-hand working yarn as usual over and around the other three fingers of my left hand. My right hand was busy enough knitting the other color English-style, which is still new to me. I wove the end in behind whichever color I was knitting for every other stitch anyway. Worked fine! It's totally invisible from the right side, and totally unobstrusive from the wrong side, too!!

I had already been spit-felting the ends whenever possible, since as you can see this sweater has a LOT of color-changes. But every time you go from a two-color row to one of the bands of plain one-color knitting in a different color, I spit-felted one of the old colors to the new one, and let the other drop. Then I started a new, second color when the time came. Of course, I realized once I started focusing on the whole concept of ends last night that I could just as well spit-felt the "second old color" to the "second new color" and let it carry past those two tiny rows of plain stockinette in another color, and I wouldn't have any ends to weave in at all. But now that I've figured out the Aija method, it's too much fun not to do it! Chalk it up to good practice...I get sick of spit-felting anyway. (Has anyone else noticed that spit and wool don't smell very good mixed together? I find spit works much better for this purpose than water or soapy water, but the smell.)

3. Yesterday, Specs commented (and apparently blogless Hyunjee seconded):

I know *exactly* what you mean about the guilt. I think grad students always feel guilty about something. We're not reading enough, sleeping too much, not spending time with friends/significant others, not putting enough time into lesson plans, not speaking enough in class, etc.

One of the reasons I like knitting is because it gives me something to show for my "free time." Sure, I could have spent those thirty minutes scribbling notes for teaching tomorrow, but hey! I've got this neat short row heel to show for those 30 minutes instead!

Everyone needs a hobby to take them out of their job (or in our case, the entire rest of our lives), and I'm glad that mine is one that also makes beautiful things for people I love.

That really says it all. In three, neat lines. Why did it take me pages and pages to not quite say that?? Story of my life...

4. Cookie said: "If I tried to write as much as you, it wouldn't make any sense whatsoever and would change topic every 2-3 sentences. " Wait, that is how I write...oh. You know, I think my blog reads rather better than my current chapter draft. Frightening, isn't it? (PS: the way to get around this is to number each topic. Then it looks like you planned it that way. The problem is that my constantly changing topics have a tendency to get hopelessly entangled with one another...)

5. Bad news about Riga balzam. After all that talk, I completely caved in and went slightly out of my way today to stop by this wonderful little wine store with a terrific selection of imports (on W. 181st just before the corner of Cabrini, for those in the neighborhood). I had found Riga balzam there once before when I was desperate enough to buy it at $25 for the large bottle (listen, you can get it for a lot less in Ivanovo, okay). I couldn't find it on the shelf in its usual place today, but they're remodeling, so I asked the manager. Turns out they can't get it any more. A French company bought out Riga balzam and a really good Armenian cognac I also like, and they're not putting it back on the market until they've aged their entire stock 4-5 more years. This means, of course, that it will likely taste even better when it does come back...and cost several times as much, too. However, for those of you who live in or near cities with Russian or other Eastern European neighborhoods, I would think you'd still be able to find other kinds of balzam and, for that matter, Georgian and Armenian cognacs (which are often very good). Ask the oldest man who works in the store which one to buy. It's always the oldest man who knows best. Rule of thumb in a Russian store: if you want honest advice on what to buy, never ask anyone under 30, and be careful with any women under 65. And don't believe anyone who tells you something is "fresh today." If it doesn't look really fresh, it ain't. Anyway.

6. No, graduate school has not driven me into alcoholism. Yet.

7. Everybody go look at Hege's gorgeous Norwegian sweater in its natural habitat of fall foliage. Yum.

8. Okay, the cashmere/silk lace scarf could also look really, really good if I had made it really long (and narrower). That's okay - I like my cravat, too. But now I also need a long, thin one...>:->


Veronique said...

Weaving in ends as you go?! Brilliant.

I also understand why grad students get hooked on knitting... It wasn't until grad school that I started knitting all the time! It's not instant gratification, but it's so straightforward: you put in a little work, and voila! A sock.
I hear you on #6. I went through the same thing. Hang in there!

hege said...

I like the idea of weaving in as you go, Kaffe Fassett recommends that, too. I'll try that next time. And I love your Fair Isle sweater. That is going to be so pretty. I love the multitude of colors!
Hmmm, Riga Balsam, sounds like something worth trying...
Thanks, by the way ;)

Marianne said...

I went and checked out the post about weaving in the ends as you go, love it! The the sweater you linked to? just stunning! Still looking forward to seeing yours completed but am thoroughly enjoying watching the process, beautiful!

aija said...

I'm so glad it worked for you! Its ridculous how much I like it... after the holiday, I'm *definitely* knitting some striped socks. :)

jennie said...

When I started grad school, the grad chair (a hip, youngish man who writes about hip topics, is working on his second book, and is in TERRIFIC shape) sat us all down at the start-of-the-semester meeting for a pep talk (he's famous for pep talks). He told us then when he was in grad school, he quickly realized that he had two choices. He could either work out or become an alcoholic. We all looked at eachother -- disshevled, soft, and tired -- and realized which route we'd taken. Of course, he didn't mention "become addicted to knitting" as an option. Knitting socks has gotten me through writing my proposal, defending my proposal, and now grant applications and first-chapter-writing. It's not quite as good for you as working out, but WAY better than alcoholism! :)

This is long, but just wanted to say that I enjoy reading your blog... nice to read the woes of another grad student knitter. Community x2

Specs said...

Aw, thanks! That's the most coherent I've been all week, so I'm glad it was appreciated :)

Regarding #6, when I got to grad school, one of the ABDs told a group of us that grad school drives you to new addiction, so choose wisely. Most people go with cigarettes, coffee/caffiene, or alcohol. I've struck a balance of caffiene and knitting that works nicely.

Your Fair Aisle looks great! I can't wait to see the finished project.

Jeri said...

You know, sometimes scarfs can be too long and too narrow. Just sayin...